Making headlines this week is the record sentence handed down to four men found guilty of running an abalone syndicate.
According to the press, the four men involved were sentenced to a combined 127 years in prison by the Khayelitsha Regional Court on charges of exporting of abalone, processing of abalone, possession of abalone, as well as fraud and money laundering.
Spokesperson Lloyd Ramovha said, “It is believed to be a record sentence as far as abalone is concerned.”
Also making headlines this week is new, state-of-the-art software that enables researchers to distinguish dolphin calls so clearly that they can be identified based solely on their whistles.
The technology, passive acoustic monitoring (PAM), is frequently used across the globe, but until recently has not been used to monitor dolphins in southern African waters.
Dr Simon Elwin, of the University of Pretoria, was one of the researchers involved in the project to employ the software to identify three different dolphin species found along the southern African coast, with excellent results.
The software, known as PAMGuard, achieved an 87.3 percent success rate in identifying the three specified dolphin species. The information gathered will be used to boost archives with basic data on call repertoire and vocal characteristics of local dolphins.
The ongoing perlemoen crisis has made headlines again this week with a study pointing to the fact that ever-depleting perlemoen stocks are primarily due to increased levels of organised crime, drug dependency and poverty in smaller South Africa communities.
The study was conducted by TRAFFIC and 25 years of lawful and unlawful trade in perlemoen formed the basis for the research. The study found that extreme poverty and drug dependence have led to people in small fishing villages turning to perlemoen poaching as a means to gain income.
Most of the perlemoen eventually finds its way to markets in Hong Kong.
Also reported in the press this week is the annual right southern whale survey that is taking place along the coast between Muizenberg and Nature’s Valley at present.
The survey is conducted annually by the University of Pretoria’s Mammal Research Institute. Researchers Ken Findlay and Meredith Thornton are about half way through this year’s survey. Each whale that they spot is recorded, all cow and calf pairs are recorded and photographed and whales with distinctive brindle markings are also photographed.
The data that is collected is analysed to provide information regarding population abundance, growth rates, survival, calving intervals and age.
The “green seafood” movement has made headlines again with a report published by WWF-SA’s Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative revealing that the 10 retailers signed up to their programme has shown on average a 30 percent improvement in selling and sourcing sustainably harvested seafood.
The report stated that, “shifts in consumer patterns had triggered a reaction from retailers who began to look for more sustainable suppliers to meet the changing consumer demand.”
Iziko Museums were also in the news with their focus on marine heritage. Marine heritage will be celebrated with a week-long programme entitled: Discovering the Deep: past, present and future.
National Marine Week is celebrated annually and its aim is to bring awareness to the marine and coastal environment, as well as to promote the sustainable use and conservation of all marine resources.